Traveling Seminar: CET Prague

Written by Alyssa Potter, (Elon University) Student Correspondent CET Prague, Spring 2016

One of the main reasons I chose CET Prague was that there’s built-in travel excursions, and, specifically, what they call a “traveling seminar.” Well, it’s been a week since I got back from our 9-day adventure, and as I reflect upon it, I can say with ease that I am so glad I chose this program.

Horse-drawn carriages in Krakow

Horse-drawn carriages in Krakow

Kraków, Poland; Oswiecim, Poland; Brno, Czech Republic; Mikulov, Czech Republic; Vienna, Austria: these are the five cities we traveled to. Other than Vienna, they’re not places I would’ve gone to otherwise, but I’m so glad I had a chance to. Kraków was absolutely incredible. It had a Prague feel to it (albeit, with a slightly bigger Old Town Square), and we all had a blast in this city. We took multiple tours, ate traditional Polish cuisine, perused the Easter markets, went to the Schindler Museum and attended a lecture at the local Jagiellonian University. Poland’s not really a place I think any of us would say we were pumped to go to, but as we were leaving we were already talking about coming back again someday.

Me with Jiri, the CES Program Director--we all went for a walk alongside what used to be the Iron Curtain between the Czech Republic and Austria.

Me with Jiri, the CES Program Director–we all went for a walk alongside what used to be the Iron Curtain between the Czech Republic and Austria.

Fast-forward to Mikulov, and we were treated to quite the short vacation. I signed up to room with three others in this leg of the trip, and, to our disbelief, our hotel room was actually a loft—we opened the door and found a spiral staircase. There’s something incredible about watching the sunset over rolling hills and vineyards; there’s something a little more incredible about doing all of that from the comfort of your lofted, practically luxurious, hotel room with three of your closest friends. Our group was treated to a nice dinner at our hotel, and then we all went to a wine tasting. If this is the Napa Valley of the Czech Republic, I think it’s time for me to make my way to the West Coast when I get back to the States.

Gate to Auschwitz; it means work will set you free. CET had us take a tour of both Auschwitz and Birkenau, it was an emotionally powerful day of learning about the Holocaust.

Gate to Auschwitz; it means work will set you free. CET had us take a tour of both Auschwitz and Birkenau, it was an emotionally powerful day of learning about the Holocaust.

Off to Vienna, and we were all pretty exhausted. Poland was packed with tours and lectures, the Czech Republic had a few tours and some down time, but we had been traveling almost a week by the time we got to Vienna. Luckily, we had a lot of free time to explore the city on our own. After two tours and two lectures, we were left to have our own adventures for about 24 hours prior to heading back home to Prague. I really enjoyed Vienna; it’s metropolitan, but it has a Parisian feel, complete with palaces galore. Friends of mine and I went to two of the palaces, did our fair share of walking around and eating Sachertorte (Viennese dessert: 10/10 would recommend) and, to our surprise, finding an amusement park with a killer view from the top of the roller coaster we went on (best 4 Euros I’ve ever spent, honestly).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you do CET right, you’ll never be bored. If you’re in the market for a study abroad program, look for one that has travel built into it. While there were a lot of educational elements, they were genuinely interesting (for the most part—I only fell asleep once—looking at you, Viennese art and society lecture) and pertained to our studies in Prague. We talked history, art, politics and so much more. We did have a little prep beforehand, seeing as the traveling seminar counts as a one-credit course, but it was worth it. And the best part? It’s not even over; in two weeks we’ll be off to Budapest, Hungary for round two of adventures!